Crafting good endings, like good openings, is among the most difficult feats to attain in a short story. So much pressure lies in its mastery – where a solid or tepid opening could mean the difference between having a work read or not read beyond the first page, a satisfying or lackluster ending often decides whether the piece gets published or not. The final paragraph of a story is usually what readers take away from the entire experience, as it is the last thing they get to process, and thus, the last thing they’re likely to remember.
Apart from the exhortations that a story needs to tie up all loose ends and bring closure to the readers, discussing what constitutes a good ending frequently devolves into the famous pronouncement in the concurring opinion of Jacobellis v. Ohio: “I know it when I see it.” As is the case with establishing aesthetic rules in writing, generalizations usually don’t work. In fact, what may sound like an effective closing to one reader might just be totally underwhelming to another. With those caveats in mind, the next best thing is to present case studies of endings that I think work (at least for me) within the context of those particular stories.
It’s that time of year again: SUMMER. For students, or recently graduates like myself, summer brings with it a freedom that seems limitless. Faced with so much time to do what I like, I always make a list of what I’d love to read. For those employed year-round, summer doesn’t necessarily evoke anymore those long stretches of free, unscheduled time, but I put forth this reading list in the hopes that whether you’re lounging on a beach, stuck in an office from 9-5 or doing some combination of both, you’ll give yourself time to read a w0rk that is truly lovely and inspiring. Nathan Go already started off his summer reading list with suggested works by Filipino and Filipino-American authors. Similar to my summer reading list last year, I’m going to keep my list eclectic and globally diverse. There are some some books I’ve read, some books I look forward to reading and some that have been adapted into films–for those, like myself, who love reading books and watching films and noticing, sometimes irritatingly, the differences between two versions of the same story.
“For each essay, I would set myself up as though I were allowed to make a collage using last Wednesday’s newspaper, a 1996 issue of Art Forum, and the notes I took while on layover at the Minneapolis/St Paul airport. And the reason for each particular assemblage was not random: there was always some hunch that I was trying to articulate in the gathering. Race, place and art are ongoing themes.”
Supermen sleep in transit every time—
no guarantees of when we’ll sleep again, or if,
so we tuck chin to flak jacket and light out
for anywhere else. We wake bitter and panicked,
plane dropping too sharply for Stinger missiles, look up,
read the taut, terrible smiles.